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Microsoft Cloud Authors: Greg O'Connor, Liz McMillan, Aleksei Gavrilenko, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski

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UCI Forum Advances Software Defined Networking with Unified Communication Use Case

The Unified Communications Interoperability Forum (UCI Forum) today announced that it has released its first Unified Communication Software Defined Network (UC SDN) Use Case specification for automating Quality of Service (QoS). Developed by its newly formed UC SDN Task Group (TG), the specification describes in detail how a UC system can automate the programming of the network for proper treatment of voice, video and web conferencing.

This innovative approach removes the expensive and error prone manual administration of deploying QoS, thereby eliminating misconfiguration, configuration drift and increased cost of operations. All an operator has to do is specify a set of policies for voice, video and web conferencing and the UC systems will automatically program the network via a UC SDN North Bound Interface (NBI) to the desired QoS treatment. The specification details how to dynamically manage QoS, which involves four different use cases:

  1. Dynamic Marking QoS: dynamically mark authorized voice and video traffic with the appropriate QoS markings.
  2. Call Admission Control: prevent voice and video traffic from exceeding the available bandwidth capacity, and notify applications of changes in available bandwidth so they can adjust selected codecs (e.g. based on policies).
  3. Dynamic Traffic Engineering of Bandwidth Capacity for each Class of Service: dynamically adjust the amount of bandwidth associated with various Classes of Service (CoS) to match bandwidth requirements of the corresponding applications.
  4. Dynamic Traffic Engineering of Media Paths: route media along a path that is best able to meet performance requirements, rather than along the “default” least-cost path.

Version 1.0 of the specification focuses on dynamically marking QoS and can be downloaded here: http://ucif.org/Portals/0/documents/2014_02_27_Use_Case.pdf. Version 2.0, set for release later this year, will extend the specification to cover dynamic Traffic Engineering (TE) and Call Admission Control.

Given that more and more customers demand UC to work correctly over Wi-Fi, the specification covers both wired and wireless networks, thereby improving the end user experience.

“By working with the industry in an open, standards-based approach, Microsoft believes Software Defined Networking offers the promise to bring great quality Lync and Skype experiences to users across all different network types,” said Giovanni Mezgec, General Manager of Product Marketing for Skype and Lync. “Through the combination of the Lync SDN API and the strong work of our partners, we’ve been able to deliver solutions for our customers they can take advantage of today and lay the foundation in the industry for broad adoption of UC SDN as a core use case for enterprise network architects.”

“Developing multi-vendor open Northbound APIs is critical to drive broad adoption and accelerate the innovation of SDN solutions, such as HP Network Optimizer SDN Application for Microsoft Lync,” says Manfred Arndt, Chief Technologist for UC, HP Networking. “HP delivers a superior UC user experience, through automation and simplification, seamlessly across unified wired and wireless networks via a hybrid SDN approach without requiring a rip-and-replace of the network.”

“Today's work-anywhere-anytime #GenMobile user expects non-stop Wi-Fi access via mobile devices to business critical applications, including UCC services like Microsoft Lync, and this requires a fundamental rethinking of IT architecture," said Michael Tennefoss, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Aruba Networks. "Wired networks with their rigid VLANs are out. Today you need over-the-air adaptive quality of service mechanisms that automatically recognize and prioritize applications, and provide end-to-end monitoring and root-cause diagnostics. For example, Aruba's interface with the standards-based Lync SDN API reflects this new reality, providing unparalleled Lync and network visibility into real-time calls, fault locations, and device issues. The SDN API empowers you with confidence to cut the cord to wired IP phones, deliver the best possible #GenMobile user experience, and realize the productivity and rightsizing benefits that come from UCC mobility.”

The UCI Forum UC SDN TG was formed in August of 2013 and has a charter to define use cases (including scenarios in automating diagnostics, security, etc.), define any NBIs (with a liaison agreement with the Open Network Foundation North Bound Interface Working Group), and define a certification program if required.

About the Unified Communications Interoperability Forum

The Unified Communications Interoperability Forum (UCI Forum) is a non-profit alliance of worldwide communications technology leaders working together to realize the potential of unified communications (UC) by increasing efficiency, decreasing implementation costs and improving the interoperability experience for UC customers. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook or visit www.uciforum.org and the UCI Forum blog to learn more.

The UCI Forum is an open industry alliance that works with its members to fully leverage customers' investments in communications systems and unite their global organizations. To learn more about the UCI Forum, please complete the online interest form.

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